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Preparing your Pet for Airplane Travel

Thousands of pets fly all over the world traveling with their families. If they could talk, those pets would probably ask you politely to leave them at home with their bed and toys next time. Nearly all pets must fly in the cargo hold area of the airplane and it can be a stressful and rough experience for your pet. If you do have to take your pet on a plane, there are some things you can do to make the experience more enjoyable for your dog, cat, bird or ferret.
  • First, always check with your airline carrier to find out if they have any specific rules and regulations for carrying your pet on the plane. Find out what size and type of carrier you can bring and what supplies your pet will need during the flight.
  • If your pet is not crate trained, purchase a crate and let them get used to sitting and sleeping in it a few weeks before the flight. Put some small treats and toys inside the crate and always leave the crate door open. Allow your pet to eat and spend time in the crate. The goal is to get your pet time to associate positive rewards with the crate.
  • Once your pet gets used to the crate and feels comfortable with it, close the door for short amounts of time while they are inside. Carry the crate around, reassuring your pet that it is okay. You want them to feel some of the same motions that they will experience while flying. This preparation helps reduce their stress. You can also take your crated pet for a ride in the car to give them the experience of what it feels like in motion.
  • Always talk to your vet before traveling. If you feel your pet will be terribly frightened or if they seem to suffer with motion sickness problems, ask the vet to prescribe a mild sedative. You only need enough to take the edge off, not to put them to sleep.
  • Try to withhold food at least six hours and water for two hours before your flight. Keep your pet’s empty water bottle attached to the crate in case there is some type of delay at which time you should inform the airline staff that your pet may need hydrating.
  • Always have a toy or two in the crate for your pet as well as his or her favorite blanket. Oftentimes, pet owners will put a recently worn tee-shirt in the crate. Your smell on the shirt provides your pet with a better sense of security.
  • When your flight arrives at the airport, go and get your pet before picking up your luggage. Ask if there is a specific area that your pet can relieve itself. Give your pet some water, but not too much. Remember that they have an empty stomach, and you will want to introduce food and drinks slowly. Give your pet a special treat, and allow them to calm down for a while after the plane has landed. 

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  • Published:
  • Updated: 7/10/2019: 8:39:07 PM ET